Pharma late again


  • The rate at which companies have been creating positions for a chief digital officer, or CDO, has slowed to a trickle
  • Just 54 companies, or 2.2%, had created a new CDO position in 2018.
  • It’s because, these days, that job is the responsibility of the entire organization.
  • Pharma companies continue to view digital as a “tactic” rather than integrate digital into the whole organization.

Once again the ship has sailed and pharma is still waiting at the airport. The most important aspect of any healthcare marketing initiative is the digital integration. As more research comes forward that shows that DTC ads are less effective and that more people are going online BEFORE talking to their doctors about advertised drugs pharma seems stuck in a mode where a few organizations are experimenting while digital evolves.

Today digital is everyone’s responsibility.

Online health seekers entering the cone for health information are often confused and overwhelmed with medical information that is hard to understand and doesn’t answer their questions. Pharma websites often are more of a sales brochure than an empathetic approach to help people understand how to best manage their problems. Sites often lack good, easy to understand, content and fail to answer the most basic health questions.

What’s worse is that too many agencies and in-house marketing people fail to put enough effort into developing a digital strategy. Websites are too often seen as a “create it” and agencies are rarely given the dollars they need to really develop a great branded experience.

Last year two major pharma companies hired Chief Digital Officers. One can only imagine the battle they’re having trying to convince DTC marketers that digital is more important than TV. There are some CEO’s who are trying to spur digital innovation, but you can’t innovate without a budget, and you have to expect some failures.

Report after report has shown that digital plays a major role in healthcare choices. Senior executives need to ensure that digital capabilities are entrenched through out the entire organiztion and not leave it to one person.